The Differential Analyzer: Calculus for the Visual Learner / QR Codes and Crypotgraphy

Each year the CAM runs its CAM Summer Research Program and gives the CAM Outstanding Research Award to the group who was most successful in conducting and writing up their research.

Date & Time:

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
5:30 PM - 6:30 PM


3M Auditorium, Owens Science Center (OWS) 150

This year the award went two students, Abby Sunberg and Grant Barland, who worked on separate projects that were both associated with mathematics used in computers. Computers were created to solve more complex problems in a faster and more accurate way than possible with the human mind. Abby’s portion of the colloquium focuses on the Differential Analyzer (DA). As a precursor to the modern day computer, the DA sought to accomplish faster and more accurate computing, specifically regarding differential equations. Today, its potential lies in its ability to visually demonstrate various Calculus concepts, especially integration. By testing the limits of programming the two-integrator DA, comparing its accuracy to that of modern computer programs, and examining its ability to display Calculus concepts, we explored the value of the DA as a visual learning tool. Nowadays, most people have a computer (i.e. a smartphone) in their pockets. Smartphones are able to scan QR codes and link one to information regarding an object on which the QR code is found. In Grant’s portion of the talk, we will examine methods of implementing public key encryption algorithms within a QR code generator. Specifically, we seek to implement RSA encryption, which offers many security benefits over traditional symmetric-key encryption. By designing a QR encoder, we gained an understanding of the fundamental structure of QR codes, and will use this knowledge to implement a new QR code encryption scheme.

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